Imatges de pàgina
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But in vain will be the liveliest sense of the obligations and privileges of baptism, and the most steadfast purpose to discharge and to secure them, unless accompanied

3. By earnest prayer to God for the continued and increasing aids of that Holy Spirit, a title to which was conferred in baptism.

The necessity of prayer to God for his Holy Spirit, enforced in every page of the sacred volume, to enable us to fulfil our baptismal engagements, is the lesson taught us by the church in the catechism; where, with affectionate simplicity, the catechist addresses the catechuman, who has just stated his baptismal engagements-" My good child, know this, that thou art not able to do these things of thyself, nor to walk in the commandments of God, and to serve him, without his special grace, which thou must learn at all times to call for by diligent prayer." The conduct of too many seems to authorize the conclusion, that this impressive instruction was calculated only for children, and designed with the age of childhood to pass away and be forgotten. Deluded men! who never, or with occasional and languid supplications, implore that power from on high, which Scripture, which reason, which experience teach you can alone save you from the dominion of sin; you will remain in your present state of sinful security-remain in your present state, did I say? alas! there is a path which leads to the chambers of hell, and rapid is the descent; there is a place where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Oh! then, with fervent and reiterated supplications invoke the power of the Holy Ghost to renew and save you. Nominal Christians, to the infrequency, to the VOL. II. 64

languor, to the insincerity of your prayers to God for his Holy Spirit, must be attributed your lukewarmness and your declension in the divine life.

Christians, adorning the doctrine of God your Saviour in all things, and rejoicing evermore in the God of your salvation, to the constancy and the holy sincerity of your supplications for the renewing power of the Holy Ghost, must be traced the splendour of your graces and the richness of your joys. Continue to invoke from God his light and his truth, and they will lead you to his holy hill -to the perfection of holiness, the fulness of joy.

4. In order to obtain this spiritual change, which baptism enforces, and which is essential to salvation, baptized persons must, in dependence on divine aid, frequently examine themselves concerning their repentance and faith.

These, in fact, were the engagements of their baptism-the conditions on which all its glorious privileges were suspended. Repentance, which commenced in a conviction of the evil and guilt of sin, and continued by a lively sorrow for it, expressed in humble confession and in earnest prayers for mercy, terminates in renouncing and forsaking it; so that the soul is established in holiness, and the life conformed to the demands of the divine law. Faith, which receiving with humility the Gospel plan of salvation, looks for pardon and acceptance to the promises of mercy declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus the Lord, and excited and warmed by the view of the exalted goodness displayed in the redemption, leads the believer, in the impulses of lively gratitude and love, to praise and to serve God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the divine Agents in this glorious work.

The exercises of repentance vary, comprehending, in the adult who has received baptism unworthily, the highest aggravations of guilt; and requiring in the adult who, since his baptism, has lived in a state of sin, deeper contrition and more particular acknowledgments of guilt than can be expected from those who have sullied, not by habitual sins, but only by occasional transgressions, or by sins of omission and infirmity, the robe of baptismal righteousness. Still, all have sinned-all have actual transgressions to lament-all have a sinful nature to deplore and to subdue; all must therefore repent.

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All must exercise faith: it is the principle of the divine life, essential to its preservation and to its vigorous exercise. In proportion to the sincerity and constancy of our belief in God, his attributes, and his laws; in his promises of mercy and salvation, through Jesus Christ, to the humble and penitent, and in his denunciations of wrath against the ungodly; in proportion to the clearness and liveliness of our apprehensions of the character and offices of Jesus Christ, as our Instructor, our Priest, and Intercessor, our Ruler, and King, invested with the glory of the Godhead, will be the fervours of our love and gratitude, and the triumphs of our holy obedience.

Christians! see then how essential to your renovation is your exercise of the holy graces of repentance and faith. Alas! how many, who in baptism were pledged to the exercise of these graces, know little more of them than the name!-thoughtless, careless, immersed in sensual pursuits and pleasures-in their lives, at least, denying God, his attributes and laws, and neither understanding nor valuing that gracious covenant of mercy and life

into which they were admitted at baptism. Ah! these worldly, sensual, nominal Christians have forfeited their baptismal privileges. The guilt of the vows of God broken, of his grace resisted, of his salvation neglected, is upon their souls. O let them, in the exercise of lively faith, repent, and turn to God. Christians! insensible to your duties, insensible to your privileges, there is a wo, a tremendous wo denounced against you-there is mercy, there is life, which you may yet obtain.

5. When those who are baptized are impressed with a deep sense of the necessity of a change of heart and life; when they fully understand and realize the nature of their baptismal engagements, and the value of their baptismal privileges; when, with humility and sincerity, they address their earnest supplications to God for his Holy Spirit; when, by the aids of this Holy Spirit, they exercise true repentance and faith-they are then prepared for receiving that ordinance which is especially appointed for conveying, to those who are baptized, the renewing power of the Holy Ghost. But the prosecution of this subject, which I hope finally to conclude in another discourse, must be reserved for a future opportunity.

Brethren, I will not indulge the apprehension (an apprehension naturally excited) that the length to which the subject has been already prosecuted, has wearied you. Happy shall I be, if, on points involving questions of vital moment, I have succeeded, even in some degree, in dissipating error and establishing truth. Happy shall I be if I have, even in some degree, succeeded in rescuing the scriptural and primitive institutions of our church from the misrepresentations and calumnies which

have assailed them. But cause of gratitude will it be to the Father of mercies, if I have been the instrument of awakening from the sleep of spiritual death one nominal Christian, or of animating and comforting, in his way to glory, one of the humble and holy saints of God.

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